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Friday, June 9, 2023

Six of the Best Modern ‘Frankenstein’ Retellings While You Wait for ‘Poor Things’ This Year

Have you ever had a vacation so iconic that people are still talking about it over two centuries later? Mary Shelley sure did, with her infamous getaway alongside Percy Shelley, John Polidori, Claire Clairmont and their host Lord Byron resulting in some of the most influential genre fiction of all time. And while Byron’s Darkness and Polidori’s The Vampyre have their merits, it’s pretty clear that Frankenstein remains the most enduring product of that fateful literary holiday.

That’s why it’s no surprise that we’re still seeing fresh adaptations of The Modern Prometheus well into 2023, with Yorgo Lanthimos’ Frankenstein inspired Poor Things proving that there are still new ways of exploring the tragic horror of Shelley’s immortal yarn. And with so many great adaptations to choose from, we’ve decided to come up with a list celebrating six of the best modern Frankenstein retellings for your viewing pleasure.

For the purposes of this list, we’ll be considering any Frankenstein film that attempts to update the Victorian story for contemporary sensibilities as a modern retelling even if the movie itself was produced decades ago.

As usual, don’t forget to comment below with your own favorite Frankenstein retellings if you think we missed a particularly good one.

Now, onto the list…

6. Frankenstein (2004)

Originally meant to be a pilot for a un unproduced television series, USA Network’s Frankenstein had a lot going for it. Produced by Martin Scorsese and directed by Marcus Nispel (who previously helmed 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake), the TV movie was supposed to be a collaboration with acclaimed genre writer Dean Koontz until the troubled production led the author to abandon the project and adapt his ideas into a series of novels instead.

While the finished film isn’t exactly a masterpiece (with the script’s origins as a pilot resulting in a haphazard finale), there’s still a lot of fun to be had with this stylish little murder mystery. It also boasts a great cast, featuring everyone from Parker Posey to Michael Madsen as it tells the story of a New Orleans detective who teams up with one of Frankenstein’s creations in order to take down his fellow monsters.

5. Frankenhooker (1990)

One of the most underrated directors of his generation, Frank Henenlotter is the master of high-quality schlock. From Brain Damage to Basket Case, you know you’re in for a wild ride when you step into a Henenlotter picture, and that’s exactly why Frankenhooker makes it onto this list despite only loosely adapting Shelley’s original idea.

Sure, the story of a mad scientist attempting to rebuild his fiancé from dead hooker parts is decidedly goofy and in bad taste, but there’s a surprisingly poignant message behind the blood, guts and sexual innuendo here. Hell, even Bill Murray promoted the film back in the day, saying that “if you see one movie this year, it should be Frankenhooker”; and I’m not about to argue with Dr. Venkman.

4. Frankenstein vs Baragon (1965)

Poor Things Frankenstein movies

Some films speak for themselves, and that’s definitely the case with 1965’s Frankenstein vs Baragon. Directed by Ishirō Honda (who previously helmed the original Godzilla), FvB tells the story of Japanese Imperialists who acquire the heart of Frankenstein’s Monster from the Nazis and experiment on it during the Second World War. Unfortunately, their research compound is located in Hiroshima and is promptly destroyed by America’s nuclear attack. 15 years later, a feral boy is found amongst the ruins, with scientists discovering that this miraculous child is resistant to radiation and can grow to an enormous size. Naturally, this leads to a fight between gigantic monsters as the growing child must face a burrowing dinosaur that puts all of Japan in danger.

If that batshit crazy plot summary isn’t enough to convince you to seek out this forgotten Toho gem, I don’t know what will. Just be prepared for plenty of rubber suits and miniatures as the reborn Frankenstein is reimagined as a budding Kaiju.

3. Monster Squad (1987)

The Monster Squad

Fred Dekker’s Monster Squad isn’t exactly a retelling of Mary Shelley’s opus, only featuring her iconic creation as one part of a larger monstrous ensemble, but the film still boasts one of the best modernized versions of the character (as well as the rest of Universal’s classic monsters).

In fact, the flick makes it onto the list because the so-called Monster actually decides to aid the titular squad instead of joining Dracula’s evil gang, making him one of the protagonists of this cult classic piece of gateway horror.

And here’s a fun fact for you: Monster Squad’s incarnation of Frankenstein’s Monster was brought to life by Tom Noonan, who had previously played the monstrous Francis Dolarhyde/Red Dragon Killer in Michael Mann’s Manhunter!

2. Frankenstein (2015)


While horror fans mostly remember him for 1990’s Candyman, Bernard Rose has directed quite a few memorable films over the years. One of my personal favorites of his genre output is his 2015 reimagining of Frankenstein, a monster-focused drama which leaned heavily into the tragic elements of Shelley’s somber tale.

The film’s reliance on soap-opera-esque melodrama means that it’s not exactly everyone’s cup of tea, but even the harshest critics have to admit that the passionate direction and memorable performances (courtesy of a talented cast including the likes of Carrie-Anne Moss, Danny Huston and Xavier Samuel as our lead character) elevate this familiar story to a genuinely emotional piece of filmmaking.

1. Depraved (2019)

Poor Things Frankenstein movie

We’ve already raved about Larry Fessenden’s reinvented monsters in the past, but the New York director remains unmatched when it comes to adding genuine human pathos to what could easily have been run-of-the-mill creature features. This is best exemplified by his Frankenstein adaptation Depraved, which adds a whole new level of tragedy to the story by focusing on the difficulties of raising a monstrous “child”.

Sure, the film is much sadder than it is scary (even more so than Bernard Rose’s version), but the memorable finale makes it my favorite retelling of Shelley’s story, modern or otherwise. And that’s why I can’t wait to see what Fessenden does with his updated take on the Wolfman in his upcoming Blackout.

The post Six of the Best Modern ‘Frankenstein’ Retellings While You Wait for ‘Poor Things’ This Year appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!

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